• Disha Hindwan Research Scholars Program, Harvard Student Agencies, In collaboration with Learn with Leaders


Carbon Trading, Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions


The inclusion of carbon trading in the Kyoto Protocol to combat climate change has allowed developed nations to exploit loopholes and avoid significant emission reductions. This undermines global efforts to combat climate change effectively. The flaw lies in the implementation of carbon trading within the protocols, as it allegedly perpetuates an unequal burden of responsibility on developing nations in the fight against climate change. This research paper critically examines flaws in the implementation of carbon trading within climate protocols, particularly in the context of the Kyoto Protocol. The paper reviews the works "Carbon Trading: How it Works and Why it Fails" by Gilbertson and Reyes, and "Carbon Trading: A Review of the Kyoto Mechanisms" by Hepburn to shed light on the limitations and shortcomings of carbon trading and its integration into the Kyoto Protocol. It emphasizes the unequal burden of responsibility between developed and developing nations. The shortcomings of Carbon Trading, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and Joint Implementation (JT) in achieving emission reduction goals and promoting sustainable development are identified in the arguments. It also reviews the McKinsey Insights article “How the voluntary carbon market can help address climate change” to bring a counterview and provide balance to the paper. It was found that a fair debate on the effectiveness of the Carbon trading mechanism is essential for developing a more equitable and effective approach to combat climate change.


i. Gilbertson, T., & Reyes, O. (2009). Carbon trading: How it works and why it fails. Dag Hammarskjöld Foundatio

ii. L, J. (2023). Inside Carbon Markets: Problems, Causes, and Potential Solutions. Carbon Credits.

iii. Matson, P. A., Gadgil, A., & Hepburn, C. (2007). Carbon Trading: A Review of the Kyoto Mechanisms. In Annual Review of Environment and Resources (pp. 385–387). essay, Annual Reviews, Inc.

iv. Neslen, A. (2021, August 25). Kyoto Protocol’s carbon credit scheme ‘increased emissions by 600m tonnes.’ The Guardian.

v. Tardi, C. (2022). What Is The Kyoto Protocol? Definition, History, Timeline, Status. Investopedia.

vi. The Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms: International Emissions Trading Clean Development Mechanism Joint Implementation. (2010).

vii. UNFCCC. (2015). The Paris Agreement. UNFCCC; UNFCCC.

viii. United Nations. (2000). Emissions Trading | UNFCCC.

ix. What are carbon markets and why are they important? (n.d.). UNDP Climate Promise.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Disha Hindwan. (2023). CARBON TRADING - A FLAWED APPROACH: EXAMINING LIMITATIONS AND INEQUALITIES IN CLIMATE PROTOCOLS. International Education and Research Journal (IERJ), 9(6). Retrieved from